I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Bible story of the man born blind in John, chapter 9. I am intrigued by the opening passage.
As he passed by he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.”
As a person with a disability looming at my door, I often question what I have done to bring this about. In both a physical sense and a spiritual sense, I wonder if I deserve to have low vision. I examine my life with questions reaching from “Have I not eaten enough leafy green vegetables?” to “Am I stressing my arteries by carrying this extra weight?” to “Is God trying to teach me something?” to “What sin have I committed to deserve this?” Everything I have learned about the divine mystery has taught me that God is loving and generous, but my self-blaming mind sometimes wonders if this low vision is some kind of punishment. Like the disciples, I attribute this oncoming blindness to sin, my own sin.
To ease my troubled conscience, Jesus’ answer to the disciples reassures that blindness is not due to sin. Jesus deepens the reassurance by giving a purpose to the blindness of the man – so that the works of God might be made visible through him. What a glorious purpose. This man’s disability is going to be used for the glory of God. When I translate this to my own life, my spirit is awakened. My low vision is not because of my sin or because I deserve it. Going even deeper, I understand that my low vision could have the power to make the works of God visible. This problem, this inconvenience, this disability is really grace in disguise. I believe that God can use me, through this journey into low vision, to reveal something of the divine glory to the world.
When I was a teenager, I thought that this revelation of glory could only come about by restoring my sight. Like the restoration of sight to the man born blind, my renewed sight would be the miracle that would show God’s glory. Now I understand that the miracle can be lived out in a different way. There are many paths through which God can use my low vision to reveal glory. For now, I believe that one path that is essential for me to follow is to try to look at the world with loving eyes, with eyes that see beauty. If I can learn to do this, I believe that God can use me – the works of God may be made visible through me. Not in spite of my low vision but because of it. This is just amazing to me and I pray and yearn for it to become reality.